Sweeney Todd probably didn’t worry about sanitation and safety precautions when he shaved his customers, but at The Deseret Barber Shop in Salt Lake City we always put sanitation and safety first!I was very lucky to be trained at a barber school which considered sanitation and safety precautions to be drop-dead-serious.
We used two different types of sanitizing fluids—one for combs and other rubber or plastic materials, and one for metals like straight razors used in shaving. Between uses tools were always being treated thoroughly so that we always exceeded the minimum requirements for sanitation and safety precautions. I have always believed that sanitation and safety precautions are primary considerations for a professional barber. This is paramount when dealing with the public trust!
Here are some general rules for sanitation and safety precautions that we learned in barber school and that we use at The Deseret Barbershop.
Rules for sanitation and safety precautions for barbers
- Always disinfect razors before and after use.
- Disinfect replaceable or injector blades before use, then discard in a sharps container after use.
- Disinfect hones and strops before and after use when preparing a conventional straight razor.
- Always wash your hands before servicing a client.
- Always use clean linens, capes and paper products.
- Always provide a cloth or paper barrier between the client’s head and the headrest.
- Never proceed with the shave if the client has a skin infection or pustules. Doing so could spread the infection to other parts of the face or to the barber.
- If small cuts or nicks occur, wear gloves, pat cut dry with sterile cotton or tissue, and apply styptic powder or liquid with a cotton swab. Discard tissue and swab in a closeable plastic bag.
- Never use a styptic pencil or other astringent application that will come into contact with another person’s skin.
- Lock the chair once the client is properly draped and in position for the shave.
- Always prepare facial hair for the shave with warm or hot towels and lather.
- Always use a light touch and a forward gliding motion that leads with the point of the blade to minimize cuts or skin aggravation.
- Always observe the growth pattern and shave with it, not against it.
- Do not use hot towels on skin that is chapped, blistered, thin or sensitive.
- Lather against the grain gently to place the facial hair in a position to be shaved. Heavy beard growth requires more care in the lathering process and more steam towels than usual to effectively prepare it for the shave.
- Use the cushions of the fingertips to stretch skin in the opposite direction of the razor stroke. Keep the skin moist and lathered while shaving. Follow through with shaving strokes from one shaving area to another. Do not stop short. Use pH-balanced fresheners or toners when astringents are too harsh for sensitive skin.
Curly facial hair requires special care as its growth characteristics may cause problems if the shave isn’t performed correctly. Ingrown hairs are often the result of improper hair removal by a razor, tweezers or trimmer. Curly hair has the tendency to grow in a looped direction and as it grows out of the skin, it can bend back into the skin surface. This can result in infected bumps on and under the skin surface.
Be especially careful when shaving tender, sensitive areas beneath the lower lip, on lower part of the neck, and around the Adam’s apple to avoid irritation or injury. When I perform the classical face shave at our Salt Lake City barber shop, I am extremely careful when shaving in the neck and Adam’s apple area.
Sanitize All Tools
There are many products that a barber should use on all his clippers, trimmers and other tools between customers. These are often found in spray containers which are fast and easy to apply after each use. Besides their sanitation properties, many of these products contain lubricants and other ingredients which help your clippers and trimmers run better, cooler and more efficient. It is well worth the investment in sanitation and safety precautions to have these products in your shop.
Why So Many Shaving Mugs?
I have been asked this question many times by our customers at the barber shop. In the older days when classical barbershop shaving was so popular, each individual customer had to have his own personal shaving mug for sanitation and safety precaution purposes. Even back in those days barbers had to practice great care to keep sanitation at it’s highest level. So each customer had his own shaving mug and shaving brush which the barbers kept at the shop between services. It was such a personalized thing that customers often had artwork showing their profession placed onto their mugs. It is quite interesting to see these mugs at a barber museum or an older shop.
Newer Sanitation Devices
Today there are many new devices which can also add greatly to your sanitation and safety precautions efforts. Sterilizing equipment which work with UV light and are great for brushes, combs and shears.The cost is coming down on this type of equipment and any barber shop would benefit greatly from this type of investment. We cannot do too much for sanitation and safety precautions of tools and equipment if we consider ourselves Professional Barbers.